Any doubt that awards season has not kicked into full gear even though it’s only early November were firmly erased Friday night as I kept running into the same Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Academy members as we dashed from an AFI Fest pre-party for The Weinstein Co.‘s August Osage County premiere in Hollywood, to a Lionsgate holiday (!) celebration at Spago, to Disney‘s Mary Poppins sing-a-long for Saving Mr. Banks at the Beverly Hills Hotel. And that doesn’t even count Sony‘s tribute to their American Hustle David O. Russell for the AFI Fest at the Egyptian. When the picture isn’t ready to show why not just throw a tribute with clips instead? (they sneaked the first six minutes). Deadline’s Jen Yamato was there and reports Jane Fonda and his Oscar winning Silver Linings Playbook star Jennifer Lawrence showed up for the pre-reception. Just down the street at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Gravity star Sandra Bullock was holding court doing a Q&A for SAG nominating committee members after a screening of the film (Warner Bros. had a separate Gravity press cocktail reception Wednesday night in West Hollywood which drew director Alfonso Cuaron and son, co-writer Jonas, along with producer David Heyman).
At Hollywood and Highland’s The Grill, August Osage County co-producer George Clooney was clearly the star attraction taking photo after photo with excited (mostly female) members of the HFPA who swarmed around him at the intimate, but crowded event before the North American premiere of the film at the Chinese. If anyone knows how to work a room like this, it is Clooney. When I managed to catch his eye he told me the film has been reworked a bit since I saw it at its Toronto Fest debut in September and that, after the balancing act of getting the adaptation of a 3 1/2 hour play down to a tight – and funny – two hours (it’s entered in the Golden Globes as a comedy), both Harvey Weinstein and director John Wells are happy with it, as Wells also confirmed. The director said he worked on honing the script for over two years with Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner Tracy Letts (also at the reception). As Clooney explained they had to take a rather insular play and open it up a bit which wasn’t easy, but the film I saw played like gangbusters in Toronto and was well-received at AFI, I am told by some who saw it last night for the first time. Co-stars Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Dermot Mulroney and Chris Cooper who has a couple of scenes that stop the show were also at the reception before hitting the red carpet (stars Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep were absent). READ MORE »
This was one of a few interesting tid-bits that CEO Jon Feltheimer dropped in his conference call with analysts this morning. The studio’s been “approached in two territories about potential theme park opportunities” for the action film … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The 2nd installment of The Hunger Games film trilogy based on American writer Suzanne Collins’ bestselling books came on tracking this morning. Lionsgate’s Catching Fire three weeks out is currently looking to open with $140M to … Read More »
Lionsgate just dropped the final trailer for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, appropriately enough, during Game 4 of the World Series. The sequel starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and baddie Donald Sutherland hits theaters November 22. Check it out here:
EXCLUSIVE: Two weeks ago when I broke the story that Imagine, Universal, Gary Ross and Jennifer Lawrence teaming on a two-part feature adaptation of John Steinbeck’s East Of Eden, I reported that The Hunger Games trio of Ross, Lawrence … Read More »
Tickets for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire went on sale just two hours ago – and presales on the Lionsgate sequel already represent 35% of all tickets sold at MovieTickets.com in … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer have closed a deal with the John Steinbeck estate for a new version of his seminal novel East Of Eden that will be developed as a re-team for The Hunger Games director Gary Ross and Jennifer Lawrence.
I’m told that the book is Ross’ favorite American novel and that the director plans to tell the generational story in two films. The novel previously was adapted into one picture, the 1955 Elia Kazan-directed film that starred James Dean and Richard Davalos as sons who compete for the attention of their farmer father in Salinas, CA. Ross wants Lawrence to play Cathy Ames, the cold and cruel mother of the boys and estranged wife of the farmer. The films will tell their stories, leading into the rivalry between their sons.
The studio and Imagine first acquired the 1952 novel back in 2004. This was after Steinbeck’s modern retelling of the Cain and Abel story shot back up the best-seller lists when Oprah Winfrey made it the first selection of the revived book club on her daytime talk show. I’m told that the original option lapsed, but then the studio and Grazer put together a new deal in a competitive situation, this one built around Ross and Lawrence, the latter of whom won the Academy Award in February for Silver Linings Playbook. Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley was very involved, as was Jeffrey Kirschenbaum, Uni’s co-president of production. Read More »
Patina Miller has been cast as Commander Paylor in Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2. The Broadway actress/singer and All My Children alum makes her film … Read More »
Cowen and Company analyst Doug Creutz raises that concern this morning in a report that downgrades Lionsgate to “market perform” from “buy.” The production company’s been a Wall Street hero with the success of its The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games franchises. Ender’s Game, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Divergent. “Although we tend to think that these three films will, taken as a whole, perform well, we think there is a risk of a sell-the-news reaction even if expectations are met,” Creutz says. “If one or more films underperform, however, we think there is a risk of significant downside to shares.” He’s concerned that Ender’s Game — about a boy who’s given the responsibility to lead the world’s military against an alien invasion — will fail to reach wide audiences after its November 1 release. In addition to “its hardcore sci-fi theme and difficult source material,” Creutz says that book author Orson Scott Card’s opposition to gay marriage “could cause some of the potential audience to avoid the film.” The analyst projects a domestic box office of $70M, which probably wouldn’t be sufficient to justify sequels. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate is closing two deals for book adaptations that will be produced by Pitch Perfect producers Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman through their Brownstone Productions banner. They’ve just closed a deal to acquire a pitch for hot scribe Erica Oyama to write a comedy based on Babe Walker’s bestseller White Girl Problems, a comic pseudo-memoir by a pampered gal out to show that even rich people deserve sympathy too. For example: She hates her horse and all the wealthy men she dates, and she has a shopping addiction that caused her once to spend $246,000 at Barneys in an afternoon. Authors Tanner Cohen, David Oliver Cohen and Lara Schoenhals wrote the book under the alias Babe Walker.
Lionsgate is separately acquiring for Brownstone Heist Society, the Ally Carter bestseller about a woman who has been part of a larcenous family and tries to go straight. That ends when her father is suspected of stealing a mobster’s art collection and she and a friend have two weeks to steal back the artwork and get it back to the mobster. For Banks, both of these are producing projects only at this point, and she will produce with Handelman. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Hunger Games tribute Leven Rambin will be busy this summer filming a pair of indie dramas. The actress who played Glimmer in Lionsgate’s blockbuster YA adaptation has lined up roles in Seven Minutes, rookie writer-director … Read More »
After the six major studios wrapped up their turns in front of the CinemaCon convention goers with 20th Century Fox earlier today, it was Lionsgate‘s turn to carry the flag for the indie sector, even though NATO’s John Fithian said last year that in Lionsgate we are seeing the birth of the “seventh major studio”. And although some of the speakers during the company’s relatively brief presentation this afternoon took up that mantle, Lionsgate in its sizzle reel actually touted the fact that they are the only non-major to actually go over $1 billion in a single year — certainly thanks to the dynamic duo of Summit’s Twilight finales and The Hunger Games, which became the third-highest-grossing film of 2012 with more than $400 million domestically. So are they are a major? A mini-major? A true independent? Or just a money-minting film company with a couple of franchises the real majors would kill for (and in the case of Twilight actually passed on — ouch).
But as befits any wannabe major, a spiffier, more corporate logo was in order, and as Deadline reported earlier they debuted it for the theatre owners here in Las Vegas. As distribution head Richie Fay put it during his turn onstage, “Lionsgate is an overnight success that was 12 years in the making”.
As far as the presentation went, Lionsgate certainly took an independent route from the way the majors have behaved all week, offering a musical-chairs lineup of executives taking their turn in front of delegates who crowded into the Colosseum to check out the product. In addition to Fay, we also heard from CEO and co-founder Jon Feltheimer, co-chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Rob Friedman and AMC theatres exec Elizabeth Frank, who pointed out the company released 20 major films in 2012 and led the field 11 separate weeks. She said her company was looking forward to the 17 movies on tap this year and many of them were showcased for the first time over the course of the 80-minute show emceed by comedian Kevin Hart. Read More »
The stock price is down more than 13% this morning following the release of disappointing financials for the quarter that ended in February — including sales of The Hunger Games trilogy that CEO Richard Robinson says were “significantly lower than our expectations.” Scholastic ended the period with a $20.1M loss, vs a $10.3M loss in the period last year, on revenues of $380.5M, -18.5%. The revenue figure was short of analysts’ expectation for $384.2M. The drop from last year was largely due to “lower sales of the Hunger Games trilogy vs last year, when we benefited from an extraordinarily strong book revenues in advance of the film release in March,” Robinson told analysts this morning. The publisher also says that it was hurt by local school systems that shifted spending from books to professional development and training materials and digital products including iPads. As a result of the setbacks, Scholastic lowered its forecast for the fiscal year that ends in May. Read More »
Netflix Nabs ‘Hunger Games’ For The UK & Ireland
Netflix has secured exclusive rights to The Hunger Games for the UK and Ireland before it hits the streaming service in the U.S. Netflix entered the market in January 2012 where Amazon’s Lovefilm is a strong player and where Sky continues to build its business. It hit 1M subscribers last August and has UK deals with studios including Disney, Fox, NBCU, Paramount and Miramax.
Bérénice Bejo To Star In ‘Le Dernier Diamant’
The Artist star Bérénice Bejo has booked her latest French film and will start shooting next week. The Eric Barbier-directed Le Dernier Diamant co-stars Yvan Attal, Jean-François Stévenin and Annie Cordy. France’s Vertigo Productions is producing with international sales handled by Other Angle Pictures. The heist movie follows an ex-con who is coerced into participating in the theft of a celebrated diamond during an auction in Antwerp and who becomes entangled with the diamond’s owner (Bejo). Read More »
Lionsgate execs had to do a little balancing act this morning when they talked to Wall Street analysts about the early plans for the movie version of author Veronica Roth’s … Read More »
NBCUniversal’s Spanish-language video operation wants to be seen as a movie destination — probably a smart strategy in light of reports showing a surge in movie-going by Latino audiences. The new multi-year agreement with Lionsgate extends their … Read More »
Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine
Who better to provide a voice to the well-received feature adaptation The Hunger Games than the generation’s most popular soulful vocalist, 23-year-old Taylor Swift? However, when Lionsgate executives and Oscar-winning singer-songwriter … Read More »
The education-focused publishing company seemed subdued today, less than a week after the tragic school shootings in Connecticut. In a conference call with analysts to discuss earnings, Scholastic CEO Richard Robinson expressed sympathy for families of the murdered students and teachers. He also urged schools to continue to promote “optimism and hope,” while officials provide the “mental health resources our schools must have.” As for the financials: Cost savings helped, but weren’t enough to overcome declining sales of The Hunger Games trilogy and other disappointments. Shares are down 2.8% in early trading after Scholastic reported net income of $61.8M for the three months that ended in November, -25.4% vs the period last year, on revenues of $616.2M, -10.1%. Analysts expected revenues of about $632.5M. Earnings, at $1.89 a share, also fell short of the $2.05 that the Street anticipated. Read More »
The sequel to the first The Hunger Games isn’t due for almost exactly a year — on November 22, 2013 — but Lionsgate has released a cool motion poster on Catching Fire‘s Facebook page. Check it out but beware the autoplay: Read More »